Kinver country fayre

On Sunday Kinver put on a show to be proud of. The annual Kinver country Fayre. We slathered on the factor 30, donned our sun hats and set off thankful that the boat would be in shade most of the afternoon. The first event was a transport through the ages parade down the high street. Sadly they couldn’t draw the narrowboat down the highstreet but the bargees and their horse came.

My favourite of the day had to be the beautiful VW Combi, Thanks Dad so many happy memories, I was driven to our wedding in our own 30 years ago.

Eric wanted the most modern BMW that brought up the rear. And funnily enough when we left the church happily married we were driven to the reception in Erics brother’s shiney black BMW. They were also promoting an electric BMW which was very sleek and smart but we’ve reached the age of preferring a car we can get in and out of gracefully

After the parade we moved onto the field with a huge variety of stalls and other entertainments.

I was mesmerised by a group of dancers called BellyFusion

and the HCA wrestling champions

Eric found the local Brew and got talking to one of the many bobbys around. Sadly we saw 6 armed police officers. We wouldn’t have batted an eyelid seeing them at an airport or in London but how sad that it’s now deemed necessary for a rural fundraising event.

One of our highlights was being able to chat to the family with the barge horse. They were ‘Little Shire’ which was very obvious when I saw the full Shires harnessed to the drays. Notably they were bred to have close set hind legs and broad set shoulders to aid pulling the barge along the towpath. They would be no good as ploughing horses because they were used to  their loads being pulled at an angle behind them. And their harnesses included rotating ‘bobbins’ that effectively stopped the leather chaffing the horses skin. A bit like horse fenders. I loved the crocheted ears to protect against flies.

We stocked up on home made marmalade and other edible delights, then returned to our boat mid afternoon for a siesta.

 

 

Elderflower cordial

I know we weren’t in the hottest place in the country over the weekend but oh boy was it warm. We found a lovely spot at Kinver under a row of shady beech trees, with a family of geese for company.

And as luck would have it, there was also a bush full of elderflowers. I duly helped myself. (10 flower heads)

And added them to a sugar syrup (about 700ml boiling water and 300g sugar left to dissolve and cool) Added some lemons (2)  and a tablespoon of citric acid(15g) left for 24 hours the strained into bottles.

Diluted with fizzy water (or champagne) bliss.

 

Ironbridge

One of the nice things about friends is that they usually have a car and in return for a days cruising on the canal they took us cruising the countryside. After 5 months afloat we don’t miss the Tarmac but it was good to cross the county boarders into Shropshire to visit Ironbridge and the surrounding area with them.

The 30m Iron Bridge spanning the River Severn was built 1779-1781 by Abraham Darby III. His Grandfather, also Abraham Darby, had worked out how to smelt iron using coke rather than coal making it a lot more economical. They also built the hotel as the place attracted visitors right from the start.

A few miles down the road/river is Coalbrookdale where the Coalport Museum is. Another fascinating place brought alive through the guided tour that we took. I’d never stopped to think about why bone china was called bone china, but there is a fairly obvious reason, it is 50% crushed bone mixed with China clay and Cornish stone. The industrial revolution was now in full steam. The convergence of a canal to deliver coal for the kilns and the river to bring the clay and stone from Cornwall led to Coalport being able to make tableware economically and more available to everyday folk.

What we saw as a fascinating peaceful place was probably far from it in the 19th century.


We got very excited seeing the canal terminus, but alas it is now only a short length and cruising to Ironbridge by canal or river isn’t feasible although next week we do plan to cruise downstream from Stourport on the Severn.

We did do and see a lot lot more with our friends but perhaps that had better stay off the blog. Sadly I was engulfed in a fit of the giggles when the tour guide showed us the sagger maker’s bottom knocker so no more photos.

Wolverley

We’ve been moored up in Wolverley for 5 nights now. Such a different sort of week to last week, when we covered so many miles to get here and now we’ve been able to enjoy exploring our location a bit more.

From Braidbar to Wolverley was 94 miles with 74 locks (including our little detour to Stourbridge) We did it in 10 days, some long and some relaxed. We got sunburnt, very wet and wind blown, we fixed one unhappy toilet and “we” lost 2 mooring chains and for all the good it did, completed our first ever postal vote in a general election.

The first thing we found in the village was the pound for stray animals carved into the Rock. I hope they don’t use it for over enthusiastic boaters as well because we’ve had a good time this week with all our visitors. Hence the lack of posting this week. Sorry.

 

We’ve arrived

Kidderminster trip day 10

Yesssss we’ve arrived. And moored up for the week so we can spend some time with friends in this area.

But first, being Sunday, we found the local church in Kinver and were warmly welcomed at St Peters. We’ll be back to explore the village properly later in the week.

Cruising onward we crept around blind bends and round overtowering rocky outcrops

Looking at the crevices in these rocks I’m assuming it must be fairly soft to have been able to build the canal and locks through it.

They even carved Dunsley tunnel through it

We’re now moored just outside Kidderminster

4 miles and 3 locks and 2 tunnels.

Tomorrow I’ll be spring cleaning the boat ready for our visitors!

 

 

 

Slight detour

Kidderminster trip day 9


We’re so close to our final destination that we decided to take a slight detour today and visit Stourbridge. As aways the thought of a market tempts me, the website stating
“…with lots of inspiring gift stalls, crafts, jewellery, clothing, home bakes, fine foods, and general stalls of good quality,…..” Mmm, that’s open to a lot of interpretation.
However we set off bright and cheerful turning off the Staffs and Worc canal onto the Stourport Canal for the 2 miles it would take us to reach the Bonded Warehouse at the end of the Stourbridge Town arm.

This route takes us through 4 beautiful locks, but as are most locks, they are deep and dangerous,and the water rushes through the gate paddles quite ferociously. it makes for a smoother ride to open the ground paddles first.

We experienced both the fast and the smooth today. Firstly, the boat coming down the canal ‘helped’ us out. Just as I closed the bottom gates, without checking to see Eric was ready, they opened the top gate paddles. I shouted for them to stop but they couldn’t see what the problem was. Eric on the other hand was being thrashed about as if he were in the white water rapidsat a theme park, which when you’re not prepared isn’t safe or much fun. These boaters were first time holiday hirers and I think they had only come down locks rather than going up them. I’m in no position to be self righteous and “a know it all”, I’ve still got loads to learn about lock handling, but I do know this, I don’t offer to help until I’ve got the drivers go ahead. And always open the ground paddles first. (despite nearly drowning us, their intentions had been good)

The next lock also held some newbies, A brood of 8 or so newly hatched ducklings were exploring inside the lock with their mum. As the lock was empty there was no way we could encourage them out. Eric’s driving skills were put to the test again, trying not to squash any of them between lock side and boat. This time I only half opened the ground paddle so the water trickled in. Sadly one of the ducklings did suffer. We could see all the others paddling furiously and quacking loudly, but this little one just bobbed about looking very bedraggled. As soon as there was enough water in the lock I was able to reach down and scoop him out. He didn’t make any attempt to struggle and it was another 5 minutes before he could stand up. Once the lock gates were opened we were able to usher the family to the safety of the reed bank and I reunited little ducky with his family. We don’t know if he had been injured or was just too small and young to cope. And I can’t be sure he’ll survive as he still had wet feathers. But hopefully we gave him a fighting chance.
Usually the ducks and ducklings just get swept around the boats in the open canal and aren’t in any danger. But 18 tonne o’floating steel can’t stop instantly and not a lot will survive unscathed being squashed by one.

The rest of the journey to Stourbridge was uneventful. The town itself had some fine old architecture but it was overpowered by modern concrete. We weren’t inspired to stay. On the positive side we did find an independent shoe shop that was able to find some waterproof shoes that fitted Eric perfectly so it wasn’t a wasted journey. We might return to explore another day because there is a glass making tradition in Stourbridge and although I saw signs pointing out various glass ‘venues’ I didn’t actually find them.
Just to add, there’s a lot of contemporary architecture that I love, but concrete shopping centres aren’t my favourite.

We spent the night moored in Kinver.
8 miles travelled
10 locks worked

Slowing down

Kidderminster trip Day 8

We had a lazy start to the day which meant that I switched the TV on to watch Andy Murray in the semi finals of the French Open.

But the desire to cruise got the better of us and we set off after lunch. We joined a queue for our first locks, Botterham flight, so whilst I watched another set of tennis, Eric went to help the boats ahead of us. I did chuckle when he commented on his achey muscles.

After a short stop to pick up water. We found a rather beautiful mooring spot where the rhododendrons where still in bloom. Just before bridge 34, Prestwood.

Our map pointed out the ruins of a round house in the  vicinity.  So after tea we set out for a walk to see if we could find it.  We assume this is it, it didn’t look like a ruin to me but some sort of a shelter/corral and it had been used/misused for fires in the middle.  Either way it was ideal for a bit of fun taking time delay photos with the two of us together for a change.

Travelled 4 miles

8 locks including a 2 lock staircase

4 hours

and NO rain while we cruised.

And Andy Murray lost the match to Stan Wawrinka.:(

New waterproofs worth their weight.

Kidderminster trip day 7

Today’s journey took us around the outskirts of Wolverhampton but it wasn’t a day for going exploring.  We’re still fascinated by how quickly the landscape of the canal changes. And the weather was unpredictable.

At Penderford the map warned us of the canal narrowing for 500m.  We approached with caution. I was all prepared to hop out and walk ahead, waving my flag to warn oncoming boats, but it wasn’t necessary. It was weird after the wide openness of the previous day’s but when I saw the stone they had to cut through to build the canal I can’t say I blame them.

Interesting bridges today. This one is the Meccano Bridge, we were a bit disappointed it wasn’t really made out of Meccano. (But there is one in Bolton) It used to take the railway but is now part of a footpath.

Awbridge and lock is interesting.  The bridge has a parapet like structure, it’s thought to be James Brindley’s first attempt at combining a lock and bridge on a public road. Built around 1772

We ended the day in Wombourne. We knew that the 3 locks at ‘the Bratch’ had a keeper so as it was a pleasant afternoon, we made the decision to through and moor on the other side.  However the heavens opened and we got soaked. Eric had bought a new outback style waterproof that kept him dry. And just typically the rain stopped as we closed the gates of the bottom lock.

12 miles

10 locks including ‘the Bratch’ flight of 3

7 hours travelling. Continue reading New waterproofs worth their weight.

How the other half live

Kidderminster trip Day 6

Yesterday was spent sheltering from the wind. Thank goodness this tree fell away from the canal not into it. We’ve seen several branches down across the towpath. I think we were very lucky to have found such a sheltered spot and not to have suffered.

As we continued our journey from Milford, south through Penkridge and onto ‘the Latches’ I couldn’t help but smile appreciatively at our new low speed lifestyle. Yesterday I’d watched the trains speeding by and today we cruised underneath the M6 motorway.  Oh how my heart went out to all those poor people being swept along so fast in their nice warm dry air conditioned cars, while we pootled by listening to the birds singing, getting rosy tingling faces thanks to both the sun and the wind.

This has to be a far nicer way to enjoy the fast lane.

Despite being on a beautiful canal we are becoming increasingly aware of modern industry. We came across a sign instructing us “for the next 200m not to stop even if there was an alarm siren.”  It was a huge chemical plant. I have no idea what chemicals were being manufactured and though I admit to appreciating an awful lot of technological advances,  I have no desire to stop here at any time, sirens or not. Hope I don’t get apprehended for industrial espionage.

It hasn’t been all concrete monstrosities. There are some lovely buildings to be seen. The round house at Gaily is a local landmark

Today’s journey was

13 miles

11 locks

And an obligatory wander around Midland Chandlers at Penkridge which lightened our wallet somewhat.

Rain stopped play

Kidderminster trip Day 5
Another day definitely not how we would choose it to be, this time gusts of wind up to 50 mph forecast from 10am till 10pm. And it was still raining.
But after we’d chatted to Kevin from Anglo Welsh about the boat there was a brief respite and we took advantage of his local knowledge and decided to see how far we could get before the wind got the better of us.
It would have been fun to take advantage of the Tixall Wides but the weather put a stop to that. Apparently it’s nice and deep so boaters can ‘practice manoeuvres’ -pirouettes or donuts depending on your inclination.
And being a good navigator I was all togged up in my s’wester to open Swivel Bridge only to realise that it’s actually the bridges name not its mechanism, and Eric cruised straight through, duh, won’t make that mistake again.
Anyway we only made two miles today when we found a sheltered spot at Milford. I’m glad we stopped. The winds were intermittently very gusty but I don’t think they were as bad as predicted.


We’re right next to the train track and I’ve been counting carriages. More freight than passenger trains, and oh so long, 30 trucks on some. And very noisy, I’m glad I don’t moor here permenantly.

The day drew to a close with the best sunset we’ve seen for a while.